By Jason Benham
UPDATE 5: Most Gulf exchanges close lower as investors await company Q4 results.
Most Gulf Arab stock markets fell on Monday in thin trading as investors awaited the release of expected weak company results, while falling oil prices clouded investor sentiment further. Kuwait and Oman were the biggest losers both falling 1.39 percent.
UAE stock markets ended higher as most Gulf Arab bourses fell, with Dubai rising 1.23 percent led by Emaar Properties. Kuwait's benchmark index closed 1.39 percent lower at 7,197 points. Muscat's measure slid 1.39 percent to 5,376 points. Emaar climbed 2.9 percent and Emirates NBD 3.31 percent as the index DFMGI closed at 1,757 points.
"The announcement by the Dubai government to increase spending is definitely positive however, sentiment continues to be fragile in the market," said Rami Sidani head of investment for MENA at Schroders.
Dubai plans to raise spending 11 percent, despite facing its first budget deficit, a senior policy maker said on Saturday.
Abu Dhabi's index ADI ended 0.57 percent higher at 2,514 points led by Etislat which climbed 0.94 percent and Abu Dhabi National Energy Co which rose 3.6 percent.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark closed lower led by Samba Financial and Saudi Arabian Fertilizers Co (Safco).
Samba declined 0.96 percent and Safco fell 2.45 percent.
Safco extended losses after missing earnings forecasts on Sunday, reporting a 28-percent drop in fourth-quarter profits.
"We had Safco's results and today in Asia and Europe stocks went down. Employment figures in the U.S. were also disappointing," said Abdullah al-Rashood, chief executive of KSB Capital.
"I think in the following few days investors will be very cautious."
Saudi Telecom (STC) rose 1.45 percent after it made a bid for Bahrain's third mobile phone licence.
National Bank of Kuwait lost 1.75 percent and Kuwait Finance House 3.23 percent. Kuwait's index KWSE declined for a fourth trading day as Global Investment House continued to weigh on the market. Global Investment House fell 7.58 percent.
"People had high expectations about the government fund and nothing has happened," says Talal al-Loghani, portfolio manager, GCC, at Noor Financial Investment Co.
"People are anticipating the results of major banks which may take the market both ways."
"We've seen dramatically low volumes today," Talal al-Loghani added.
Qatar's index ended 0.13 percent lower at 6,336 points, led by Industries Qatar which fell 0.68 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank which eased 0.76 percent.
Bahrain's benchmark rose 0.17 percent to 1,752 points after two trading days of falls.
Bank Muscat and Oman Cables Co lead Oman's benchmark MSI to close lower, falling 3 percent and 5.62 percent respectively.
Muscat's measure slid 1.39 percent to 5,376 points.
"Volumes are pretty low. People are just waiting for the results to come," Sankar Kailasam, head of research at Gulf Investment Services, said.Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s Emaar Economic City and Saudi Telecom (STC) lead the kingdom's benchmark TASI higher in early trading, rising 4.5 percent and 0.97 percent respectively.
"The market saw a fast rise at the beginning of the year. It is profit-taking mainly," Tariq Abdelrazaq, deputy general manager at United Securities in Muscat, said.
"The market is still waiting for government funds and the delay in this is worrying the market."
Oman's government said in November it would set up a 150 million rial ($389.6 million) market-maker fund with the private sector to help stabilise the country's bourse. (Reuters)